Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

Home worker sentenced over abuse

A care home manager who used the arms of other residents to hit a woman with learning disabilities over the head has been given a suspended sentence.

Jane Harris attacked the woman as punishment for pulling her hair, Leeds Crown Court heard.

The 45-year-old was given a six-month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months.

Harris, of Priory Close, Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, was convicted of six charges of ill treatment or neglect earlier this month.

Recorder Simon Jackson QC also imposed a 12-month supervision order, including a requirement to do 150 hours of unpaid work.

The offences were committed by you against some of the most vulnerable people in our society
Recorder Simon Jackson QC

The offences took place between May and August 2007 at the Travis Gardens home for the severely learning disabled in Hexthorpe, near Doncaster.

The centre at 88 Travis Gardens is unrelated to two nearby homes at numbers 84 and 86 on the same street.

Police said Harris, who has 23 years of nursing experience, was only the second person to be convicted under the provisions of the new Mental Capacity Act.

It makes ill-treating or neglecting a vulnerable adult a specific offence.

The court was told how Harris's behaviour left residents traumatised.

'Deeply regrets'

One woman involved in the abuse cannot speak but was heard to scream by other staff.

Harris denied any of the incidents had happened.

The judge told her: "The offences were committed by you against some of the most vulnerable people in our society."

Speaking after the hearing Det Insp Natalie Shaw thanked staff at the home for speaking out against Harris's behaviour.

"This woman was paid to look after and care for these people. These are the type of people she ended up abusing", she said.

"We're just thankful staff came forward."

In a statement Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust said it "condemned" the incidents reported in court.

It added that an internal inquiry into Harris's case had begun now criminal proceedings were complete.

It said: "The trust appreciates and deeply regrets the distress these incidents must have caused to the residents and their families."

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